Crystal Blue Aggression: Beta Weekend Event 2 Impressions

underwater combat

BOOM!

Small Town Hero

I have these moments during the beta weekends where, after I have just finished a few Events or Hearts in a small area, I stop to look around and ponder what to do. I am mindful of the idea that if I talked to more scouts in the world, I’d have somewhere marked out on my map as a next destination, but I have avoided scouts for my own reason. I like to explore. The times where I’ve filled up my tasks and think I have nothing left to do tend to lead to my favorite moments.

Fighting Moa Birds

Blurred Frenzy versus the poor pink Moa

At a certain point in the beta, I turned off the UI and began fighting moa birds without the UI to assist me, taking screenshots of the combat without the combat text or UI to explain what I was doing or what was being done to me. I did this to have some clean combat shots for this blog, but I also did it to become better at reading combat and using my skills.  This was a moment where I was not pursuing a quest-like goal, but doing whatever I wanted. It just so happened that I was fighting Moas by the lake in Kessex hills. This is where a fishing village had been repeatedly attacked by Krait slavers. I knew I needed to learn more underwater skills, so I took my blind combat into the lake.

I quickly found that I actually liked the Mesmer’s trident weapon skills more than most of the Mesmer’s land-based skills. The Trident is about the only thing in game that makes the Confusion condition matter. I noticed that the lake had an opening on the far end, at the opposite shore from where I was fighting the moa birds. I swam off in that direction, picking off krait slavers along the way, and learning my trident skills.

At the lake opening, I found a shallow tributary with some fish and crab, along with those kraits. I swam my way through this watery avenue until I came upon an even greater lake than the previous one from which I had came. I turned my UI back on, and saw that a heart had opened up somewhere near me, along with a skill point challenge. I tried to find a way back up on land, finally locating a low ledge to my left. When I got onto the ledge, I noticed a watery cavern was just below me. I hopped down into the cavern and found a Hylek waiting for me.

Piggy Time

I am going HAM on them truffles.

What I had come across was the “pig quest”, a heart in which the Hylek shaman turns you into a pig and you forage the cavern for truffles. I had seen youtubes of this event before, but had no idea where it actually was. I was excited to find it, and found the heart a nice bit of fun. While doing my little piggy truffle shuffle, I heard some Hyleks talking in the water. I hopped into the water, found an underwater passage and followed it all the way down and around, until I came up into a hidden cavern that was home to a tiny Hylek encampment.

After finishing the heart, I found my way back out and tried to find the skill challenge nearby. It took some climbing, but I did run across a stinky Asuran engineer who had some weird stink bomb contraption. He challenged me to see if I could handle his invention and we proceeded to battle. His “stinky” contraption lobbed poison all over the ground and the fight was rather challenging. I did manage to take him down and receive my reward. Looking over my shoulder, I saw what looked like an Asuran outpost on the beach.

I swam over to this outpost and found that it was full of strange races, some new and some from the first game. There were Asurans, but there were also Caromi, Sylvari and Quaggans. The Quaggan seemed to be the locals of the area, and a rather annoying one kept begging me to do something about the Sea Witch. I finally said yes, and a boss Dynamic Event popped up in the middle of the lake.

Hylek Village

Frogs live in the coolest spots.

After selling off my junk items, I dived back into the lake in search of this Sea Witch.

Inside the lake was another heart, and another Quaggan. This task consisted of checking crabbing traps and fighting crabs, krait and the rest of the things that probably scare Quaggan. Given their perosnalities, I think everything scares the Quaggan. While i could handle the previous lake’s Krait warriors, this lake was decidedly more reinforced with Krait militia. As I tried to complete the heart and find the Sea Witch, I kept running into more and more foes. Once I finally found the mouth of the Sea Witch’s cave, I saw that it was guarded by veteran Krait that proceeded to run me out of town. A nearby player helped me escape, but I decided to put the Sea Witch on hold.

After I went back to the crabbing work, I found another opening in the underwater geology. Wandering in, I came to a new dynamic event. I had found a Quaggan town underwater that was being attacked by slavers. This was one of my favorite events, but also one of the more vile events, and for the same reason. First, I was doing it alone, and I was doing it all for the Quaggan. I fought off wave after wave of Krait, stopping to free the Quaggan that had been shackled by the slavers. This event allowed me to use all the underwater skills I had just learned, and my reward for completing it was hearing a chorus of Quaggan conversation.

The Quaggan look like manatees and talk like rejects from a really bad children’s show. When I had run off the Krait, the town mayor remarked “Stwoopid Kwait!” The villagers looked to blame someone and rambled on about recovering something. They celebrated and discussed what next to do. I felt like I had, by myself, saved these poor Quaggan townsfolk, but then again, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to hang around and hear them talk like babbies.

Major Tests of a major issue

I was not happy to hear about the change to traits that ArenaNet had made for the Beta Weekend Event. I am a big fan of the previous system which allowed you to pick any major trait in any major trait slot. In Guild Wars, I was a build maker and tester. Even when my guild was not doing any PvP matches at the time, I was busy testing out ideas and theories. Even to this day, I try to break the system and find something crazy to do. This means that tiering and restricting traits is not something that fits my playstyle, nor is it something that really, truly helps balance. You either are good at balance or you’re not, and you don’t really know what your balance is until the public gets its hands on your game. This BWE2 was a prime example.

In the previous BWE, there were at least a few good Mesmer builds. I messed with a staff build that high survivalbility, and I played around with creating a Mind Wrack shatterbombing build, trying out a couple variants on that same idea. I tried to create confusion based builds, but the condition was and is still lacking.

This BWE, I wanted to try out a new Glamour+Confusion build idea that I had made in the various build calculators available on the web. The new trait system had changed some things up, but I was still able to replicate the

Forest PvP Results

Being able to solo Forest bosses equals easy points.

build. Unfortunately, the build required I take three glamour utilities and I quickly became aware how much I depended on kiting people through those glamours. It wasn’t horrible, but it was extremely situational. My glamours blinded and confused foes entering them, and my blinds also applied an extra confusion. As I played, I noticed my Duelist from my pistol off-hand was doing some good damage. It was mostly the Duelist and my Confusing Images that were being effective.Word was getting around that Phantasms had been buffed. After a few runs with my first build idea, I reworked the idea and sacrificed all the blind and blind creates confusion traits for pure Phantasm pumping buffs. I started to see obscene numbers from my Duelist, and then I tested it out on the Golem dummies, seeing the obscene damage numbers replicated. As it turns out, Phantasmal Haste was basically removing the cooldown from Phantasm attacks and turning my illusions into machine guns. By the end of the day, I had adjusted everything into a build that most would call “broken”. I still retained the Glamours cause confusion and longer lasting glamours, but now they worked with my Duelists by their strength as a combo field.

Anyways, by the end of the first night, the public had found an overpowered build in the new trait system designed to mitigate such things. Not a damning thing, but not an impressive thing.

Speaking of the Mesmer..

I thought they were reworking the Mesmer, but ANet hadn’t really changed much, and what they did change, I am not sure anyone likes. Clones now do zero damage, but can take an extra hit. This makes them slightly more durable for shatter purposes, but also makes them even less a deceptive tool. Phantasms now pose legitimate threats, but still get overwritten by the weaker clones. As for shattering, the previously powerful Mind Wrack was nerfed through its traitline, deep into the ground. A mind wrack now hits the same as my MH Sword attack. Not all that impressive or worthy of consideration. Since Phantasms outwork shatters, I stopped using shatters in PVP and used them less in PVE than I had in the previous BWE. Overall, the Mesmer is in worse shape now than it was in the previous BWE. They have all the same major issues, but feature fewer viable builds and tactics.This may be why I began my second character this BWE while playing Mesmer for the entirety of the previous betas.

That Finale

The finale for this BWE was bewildering and awesome at the same time. What was going on wasn’t as apparent as I expected, but once I figured out what was going on, it was one of those “AWESOME!” moments. Unfortunately, the finale really needed two hours instead of 45 minutes. Many servers had the event start late, and no server that I know of took the event to completion.

Crystal Assassin

I became a crystal assassin.

The basic premise of the finale was this: The Crystal Dragon has appeared in the sky and sent in its forces. The Flame Legion has joined the dragon legions and begun to set up camp outside The Black Citadel. The first part of the event featured fighting off the Flame Legion, but after about 10-20 minutes, these crystal shards started showing up around Waypoints in the Charr starting area. Our massive zerg ran from Crystal to the next, fighting corrupted Charr legions. At a certan point, strange crystal creatures started showing up with names that looked like player names. My event notifier told me to destroy them, so I did. I still couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. Our zerg kept going from Crystal spawn to Crystal spawn, while Rhytlock roamed through the Ascalon Foothills, looking for a fight. Finally, I died in one of the giant battles. When I clicked on resurrect, I showed up at one of the crystal corrupted waypoints and found that I had been corrupted and turned into a crystal creature. I had a new set of skills and a new job to do: kill and corrupt all the remaining players. Now the game had turned into a giant game of kill-tag. We got to about 80% of the playerbase corrupted before the event ended.

It was fun, but I really would have liked to seen what happens at the end. Do we fight Rhytlock? Does the dragon come down from the sky? I mean, come on!

Finale Chaos

Absolute Chaos.

Other things

I did do a bit more WvWvW this weekend, but again, our server was severly outmatched and running into a meatgrinder was in no way or shape fun for me. At a certain point during the first night, we had taken 60% of the map and I was part of a group that was clearing keeps and killing Keep Lords. This was enjoyable, though it didn’t involve much fighting other players. Once all of us Americans went to bed, the second place server went to work overnight, capturing about 90% of the map and never looking back. There needs to be something done about the way every WvWvW turned into a pure domination. The third server in this matchup was never ever a factor. We wiped their zone out and then the other server wiped us out.

I did play some engineer and found it to be a supportive, wacky, fun little class that I can see functioning in the background of combat. I’ll have more thoughts on it later.

I got my crafting p into the 80s and made myself some gear. I also got some cool threads from wandering into the new zone and fighting higher level mobs. I got a good amount of dye drops and don’t have a problem with the drop rates or the dye system so far.

I unfortuantely didn’t get to 30, which is what happens when you try to do everything there is to do. This means I still have no dungeon experience to speak about. I hope they don’t reset characters for at least the next BWE so that I may be able to experience the dungeon and finally do a write-up on the game’s dungeon design.

That’s it for now. Long live the Moletriat.

Bank

Looking good.

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A Pacifist’s Guide to Guild Wars 2 PVE

Married couple in the Ascalon Settlement

He replied: “Forget the fresh air. Let’s go back inside!” and thus they did. (Yes, they really did.)

A pastoral life on the Centaur battle lines

Being that Guild Wars 2 has combat mechanics and that those mechanics are important to the whole game, it’s not a surprise that you will spend a lot of your playtime just killing things. In my PVE post, I went over how mob behavior and purpose is different in GW2 from most online games, but this entry is not about mobs or combat. This is about helping out the world in all the other ways you can.

The following will be a list of things I’ve done in the game that don’t involve combat. The first list will be things that aren’t combat themselves, but often lead to combat. These sort of things normally start with interacting with objects or characters, and the interaction then leads to a fight. The second list is the pure pacifist’s way, things to do that involve no need for combat at all.

The important part is that all of these actions help fill up the meter for your heart or dynamic event.

Things to do that may lead to harm

  • Check crabbing crates
  • Pull up grubs
  • Talk to angry NPCs
  • Stomp out zombie corpses
  • Check burrowing holes
  • Check unexploded ordinances
  • Check bushes for Moas

Things to do that are combat-free

  • Feed farm animals
  • Forage for truffles
  • Water plants
  • Put out fires
  • Take down banners
  • Calm angry NPCs
  • Boost the morale of troops
  • Find and deliver gift packages
  • Pray at a memorial
  • Disarm traps
  • Clean tar spills
  • Answer riddles
  • Put eggs back into a nest
  • Resurrect fallen allies
  • Break locks and free prisoners and slaves
  • Capture salmon and feed it to bear cubs
  • Pick up discarded tools and put them away
  • Pick sour grapes
  • Tell kids to do their chores
  • Set traps
  • Find identification badges on fallen soldiers
  • Gather and deliver ore
  • Deliver gifts
  • Test out a new batch of ale
  • Wash away graffiti
  • Test out some spicy BBQ
  • Snowball fights
  • Practice training with instructors
  • Harvest

There is a lot of interacting with objects, but there is also NPC discussions and some more interesting options like riddles and snowball fights. I often found myself looking for more of these non-combat options while everyone else was killing anything they could find. Fighting grubs gets tiresome after awhile.

In the future, I will probably find more of these tasks and add to the list. For now, I’ll just say that I enjoy having these options. The Ascalon Settlement outside of Lion’s Arch was one of my favorite towns, as well was Beetletun in Queensdale. These places offered out of the ordinary tasks to do and the towns themselves had a vibe all their own. My favorite NPC interaction has to be the happily married young couple in the Ascalon Settlement that have a quick, amorous conversation that leads to them running back inside for a sexy romp.

Maybe I’ll find some Dredge handing out pamphlets somewhere.

Leveling as an apprentice

What if you don’t want to even step outside of the city? What if you go outside the city, but only to harvest and mine? You gain experience for gathering, as you do in most MMOs now, but you also gain experience from crafting. A good deal of experience in fact. It may be tiresome and expensive, but you can actually level from 1-80 merely by crafting, though it would involve learning and maxing out every craft skill.

The way leveling XP gain works in crafting is this: For leveling a discipline from 0-400, you will gain 10 levels along the way. By maxing out all 8 disciplines, you will gain 80 levels. That means you could dedicate a character to crafting, feed it all the mats you get on other characters and level it all the way to 80 without ever needing to kill a thing. As hardcore crafters, we think that is pretty cool.

– Linsey Murdock (ANet)

That’s that for now. The Moletariat shall rise again!  ..once I skitter through my notes.

The Adventures of Captain Kitty Face

Engineer Quicklook

I have heavily focused on the Mesmer in this blog, but I’ll begin looking at the engineer over the next couple of betas. Being that the Engineer is a new class and new concept to the fantasy MMO, these articles dealing with their gunpowder loving playstyle will be a bit more casual in approach. The fact is that I’ll have to learn the Engineer playstyle before commenting on how well it’s working. A man can’t base everything off of Team Fortress 2.

My first blog articles will be on the look of the Engineer and the general feel of the Engineer class. Following that, I’ll probably go into complexities and play needs/issues.

 

First things first: I can throw a shield.

Look, I like throwing shields. This isn’t even a Captain America thing. I never read that comic. I was an X-Men guy. I just like throwing shields like a boomerang. The Engineer lets me do that. It also lets me fire a battering ram at people. This is why the Engineer became my second class. For this playthrough, I will probably be sticking with the pistol and shield combo, just because of the useful shield skills. Of course, the Engineer is less weapon dependent and far more utility skill based. You don’t reach your utility skills right away in GW2, so the Engineer playstyle doesn’t really start to show until level 8. Before then, you’re just sort of a gun-toting nutball.

In honor of the Engineer’s craziness, I made mine a Charr with crazy looking eyes and goggles. Why? Why not.

Bare Chested Kitty Face

My Engineer blew up his clothes

 

Inside the Black Citadel

Captain Kitty Face comes home

 

Second Things Seconded?

I will be doing a PvP look at the Engineer as part of the first impressions and “general feel” post to come. Currently, the toolkits give the Engineer a lot of various feel, but it may be the case that they all sort of play alike. After the weekend, I’ll have more to say I hope.

I will say that Cap’n Kitty Face’s shield got a lot of compliments, but that will be saved for another post on the Peace Keeper Weapons. A quick look on those things: Asuran Awesomeness

Ghostly Shootem-up

Duelist Damage

5k damage on medium armor…

Duelist Damage

…7k damage on final shot?

Woops?

For some reason, when properly traited, the illusionary duelist is doing obscene amounts of damage in BWE2. I am posting these screens here to later reference them, This is 7k damage on medium armor with little to no cooldown on shots fired from the phantasm. The damage also seems to escalate with each hit. It maxes out at around 5k damage versus heavy armor.

I am not sure if this is an intended balance to the nerf of mind wrack and clone damage, or if something isn’t working properly. Either way, it’s been free wins in sPvP with the duelist build.

UPDATE

The combat numbers in these screenshots may just be an oddity created by the way combat text is currently displaying channeled skill damage. It seems some skills are having their multiple hits tallied up into one damage readout. I have also heard that combat text for channeled skills is just plain bugged and giving silly number readouts. Either way, Phantasmal Haste trait does seem to be out of whack and I farmed glory with these crazy phantasms until I got a nice little Greatsword and PVP outfit to feel a little different from all the other Mesmers.

Magical Greatsword

This Greatsword came from a Treasure Chest reward for reaching a new rank in PVP

New Combo UI?

Combo UI

Perhaps a combo attack from the Necro and their Guardian friend?

Cleansing Bolts

I’ve talked a bit about the cross profession combo system in Guild Wars 2. What I haven’t mentioned specifically is that the system, up until this point, didn’t really explain to you well what just happened. On a combo action, a player gets a simple, plain text flash on the screen saying “combo”.

The above image might be an updated Combo UI that is far easier to read and actually combo skill specific. If it is the new combo UI, I imagine Cleansing Bolts would be a light field/projectile combo attack. There was also a Retaliation notice of the same type within the video.

The image is taken from the PCGamer Dev Test stream from earlier today. You can check out the stream here:Twitch TV

(Image from the 1:44:12 mark in video.)